Back in the ‘90s, when The Simpsons was one of the best shows on TV, the world was gifted a theatrical bomb known as Waterworld. This post-apocalyptic action film starring Kevin Costner cost a lot of money to make and was an infamous dud. So naturally, The Simpsons made a joke about it. And now that joke has become a fully playable video game. Just be prepared to fork over a lot of quarters.
I doubt I need to explain what The Simpsons is to most of you reading this. Even if many of you weren’t yet born when the show started, the animated comedy (which is still on the air) is one of the most famous and critically acclaimed TV shows of all time. Many of its jokes and scenes have become internet memes, and the iconic characters are recognized the world over, so you’re likely familiar with the program.
However, you might not know about a joke that appears in the season 8 episode “The Springfield Files.” In the episode, which is an X-Files crossover (the 90s!), we briefly see Bart’s friend Millhouse loading 40 quarters into a Waterworld arcade machine. Playing as Kevin Costner’s Mariner, he takes one step. The game immediately ends, prompting him to insert another 40 quarters.
Now, indie game developer and Twitch streamer Macaw45 has put together a free, full game inspired by that 20-second joke. And it’s very good. (And frustrating.)
While the original fake game seen in the show was basically one screen and a few animations, Macaw45 has expanded on it greatly, adding bosses, multiple areas to explore, and even some secrets to find. But before you get to play Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, you’ll need to load in 40 quarters.
In fact, every time you die the game demands more coins and keeps track of how much money you spend to finish it. Also, based on the audio that plays when putting coins into the machine, you appear to be playing as Millhouse, which is the saddest part of all of this.
Macaw45 said he’s always been “fascinated” by the fake video games that would often appear in The Simpsons. And Waterworld’s terrible arcade game stuck with Macaw45 more than the others. According to the dev, the idea of what could possibly lay beyond that one screen we see during the show was something he kept thinking about long after the episode aired.
“This project was born from that interest,” said Macaw45. “And while originally planned to only be a short game, it quickly developed further and I sunk tremendous amounts of effort into it to the point where it ended up becoming a fully fleshed-out game of much greater scope than I ever expected.”
Once you beat Waterworld (or give up a few screens in, no shame) you can try out another fake Simpsons game turned real: Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.